British statutory sick pay is “discriminatory”, says European Council
The European Court has argued that statutory sick pay and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) in the UK is inadequate and does not meet requirements set out by EU law.
If you’re ill or disabled, ESA offers you financial support if you’re unable to work, or personalised help so that you can work if you’re able to. Those over the age of 25 can receive up to £73.10 a week in the first 13 weeks, and then up to £109.65 thereafter.
But EU officials have argued that a change in the law three years ago to adjust the level of health and safety regulation that applies to the self-employed has created a “discriminatory system”.
The new law means that only those who carry out activities that pose a risk to the health and safety of others are covered.
“All workers, including the self-employed, must be covered by health and safety at work regulations as long as employed and self-employed workers are normally exposed to the same risks,” the Council of Europe said.
In its report, the Council of Europe also found that beneficiaries of ESA were receiving less than 40 per cent of the median income of the UK, contrary to the European Social Charter.
“Accordingly, regardless of the additional social assistance benefits which might be available, the committee considers that the level of these benefits is manifestly inadequate,” it said.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: “Our welfare system is among the best in the world and we are committed to helping people improve their lives. We spend over £90bn a year supporting people of working age, including those who are out of work or on a low income.”